Culture Unifying Element in Development

Manila Bulletin, March 30, 2010 | Go to article overview
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Culture Unifying Element in Development


A set of policy recommendations to presidentiables prepared by commissioners of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) National Commission outlines Unesco’s thrusts as the UN body mandated to provide a framework on education, culture, social and human sciences, science and technology, and communication. The document complements the major platforms of government that have been articulated in various forums held over the past months by focusing on “knowledge-based (building communities of inquiry, lifelong learning, critical thinking, information literacy, right to information, transparency), and “culture” frameworks which emphasize individual and group’s capacity for self-assessment, self-expression and self-reform as critical factors in governance. Structures of government and content of policies and programs must be aligned with values, expectations, and relationships among groups. Concerns with conduct becoming a Filipino respect for human dignity, tolerance of diverse opinions, compassion, volunteerism, balancing the material with the non-material aspects of culture, conservation of common heritage which assures us of a sustainable future these are often undervalued or underutilized but must now guide governance and development strategies.The paper provides specific response to climate change and other environment concerns, coastal management, preservation of heritage sites such as the endangered Banawe rice terraces, educational reforms, and planning the use of the media and ICT infrastructure. Civics and social studies are seen as the critical entry point for social and human sciences in basic education. It cites the example of our early Katipunan leaders who sought to make “Kalayaan” a state of spirit, a dictum of living, and a basis for cultural transformation. Action must therefore be anchored on a culture that values learning throughout a lifetime with emphasis on internal and external transformation of people and societies, with the aim of ensuring a lasting legacy of excellence and nobleness.Let me paraphrase the Unesco policy document by citing observations from international scholars who had earlier identified the major challenges of the future (Keys to the 21st century, Unesco, 2001) Inquiry into the issues of democracy, human rights, education, population, science and technology, among others have shown that our universe is no longer one of certainties.

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